Everyone Needs a Hero

Maybe it’s true. Maybe we don’t know what we have until we’ve lost it. But, maybe it’s also true that we don’t know what we’re missing until we find it.

A.A. Milne

Photo by Dan Bøțan on Unsplash

It’s a moment that isn’t soon forgotten. You are watching a show or a movie and suddenly you come face to face with – yourself.

Let me back up. I’ve loved movies, books, fantasy worlds, and escapes from reality since day one. These stolen golden moments when I could pretend I was someone else, put myself into a different pair of shoes, and experience a different perspective, painted my childhood.

The heroes in these stories were all wonderful – and they were all something I could never be. They were tall, I was short. They had lustrous dark hair, I had frizzy red hair. They were well liked, I … wasn’t. They tended to be boys, I’m most certainly not. They had sharp cheekbones and clear skin, I’ve got more freckles than some people have hair.

Finding a female role model in a great story is hard. Women are rarely the main character. When they do appear they often are reduced to furniture for the main character to use, think about, and rescue. When a strong female character does enter a story, she is almost always dark haired, long-limbed, with clear skin. Anything different is a notable exception, not the norm.

Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman

The most recent Wonder Woman captures the hearts of mothers and daughters around the world because she is strong and good and real. But she matches the formula: she’s dark haired, with long legs, and clear skin.

I loved Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One in Doctor Strange because she breaks the rules of what a strong female character should look like.

Tilda Swinton in Doctor Strange was completely amazing.

A few weeks ago, for the first time in my life, I finally had my moment where I too felt represented in fiction.

At the end of Solo: A Star Wars Story, the masked Enfys Nest does her big reveal. Throughout the movie we’ve been led to believe she is a man. She wears a large disguise and hides her voice. She is tactical, ruthless, efficient, and has made things hard for our hero – so we aren’t sure if we should like her.

The daunting and powerful Enfys Nest, played by Erin Kellyman

When the mask falls to the ground we see this stunning powerful woman with a mass of red curly hair and freckles.

And, ohmygosh ohmygosh ohmygosh, I finally get it. I had never encountered a powerful redhead in film until now. This is what representation means and why diversity is so important. Until recently entire populations of people have been excluded from being cast in powerful roles. This has got to change.

Until this moment I didn’t know what I was missing, because I had no idea there would ever be someone like me portrayed in film. Because of this moment, I intend to strive for greater diversity in future projects.

Everyone deserves a hero they can see themselves in.

Toxic Fans and How Not to be One, with James Wymore

Every single one of us has that one friend who hates things with an unusual passion. You know the one – and if you don’t, it might be you. The conversation will start with a casual discussion about the most recent movies they’ve seen and the next thing you know, they are ranting about some aspect of the show that you frankly could care less about.

This is a toxic fan – and James Wymore isn’t one of them. Trust me. He’s got opinions a plenty about recent reincarnations of certain franchises, but he also has that wonderful thing called perspective. As an author who has
solved the puzzles and fought to find what makes his fans happy, he gets it.

James and I are friends and fellow authors at Immortal Works press.

Solo, the story of why Han has trust issues

Toxic Fans and How Not to be One

by James Wymore

I can’t count how many times over the years I’ve had somebody tell me how awful the Star Wars prequel trilogy is. At conferences, during convention panels, over pizza, at family gatherings, and so many times on social media. They are generally nice people, with notable exceptions. I just can’t figure out why they have taken it upon themselves to actively campaign against a nearly twenty-year old movie in a franchise they claim to love. What is it they hope to gain?

So I started engaging some of these folks in conversations, to find out what about those movies caused them so much irritation that they would publicly proselyte against them.

The responses varied, of course. Some became defensive, as if they couldn’t understand why anybody would have to justify such an obvious opinion. Others broke down into lists of reasons, some I suspect were regurgitated from online or other sources. The last group just increased their vitriol, adding emotional weight to their claims. The only common thread I could find was that each of them felt it should have been done differently.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but it takes a lot of self confidence to believe you could imagine or produce a better movie than the franchise’s original creator, writer, and director.

I wrote this off as people being people and didn’t let it upset my own enjoyment of those movies. However, over time, the anger and animosity toward Star Wars creators grew exponentially when Disney bought the franchise and began making new movies. Abrams managed to make most of the fans moderately happy with episode 7. Rogue One caused a new division. Then waves of social hate rose up to actively protest episode 8. And I can’t even explain why so much anger was aimed at Solo.

Disney responded by cancelling all the spin-offs. Then they changed their mind and cancelled everything after episode 9 (which had a year left before it even came out). Way to go, whiners, you got Star Wars put on permanent hiatus. You literally killed the thing you claimed to love. Even if it wasn’t what you wanted, did you have to ruin it for everybody else? If you couldn’t have the movies of your imagination, does that mean the rest of us shouldn’t have any either?

If you like something, great. If you don’t like it, that’s okay. But why the hate? Why the need to actively tear it down? Did it ever occur to you that you could just leave peacefully and let the rest of us enjoy it?

Fandom has grown toxic.

 We all need a little more zen in our media consumption. Rather than lashing out when you’re disappointed, maybe a better strategy would be to just watch what you like and don’t watch what you don’t. Are you getting paid to review movies? Have you been inducted into the posse to protect innocent citizens from bad media? Did the “fix the franchise” crusaders make you their missionary?

Trust the market. If people don’t like something, they won’t buy tickets and the company will lose money. That’s the only feedback they really listen to anyway. If you don’t like the new Ghostbusters, don’t watch it. But be cool. Don’t go after the company and start spreading negativity. Offer people the dignity of deciding what they want. And be secure enough to not like something without rage.

Creating a hostile environment just ruins it for everybody. In the end, isn’t it supposed to be about entertainment and fun? If not, maybe you should reevaluate why you are emotionally invested in it. If so, then making it toxic is counter-productive.

Peace.

The real James Wymore

About James Wymore

Growing up on a steady diet of Spider-man cartoons and television shows like Batman and Wonder Woman, James Wymore knew he would someday find his own super power and join the fight for justice. He did everything right, from experimenting with arson to jumping from great heights, but his ability to control fire or fly never kicked in.

As he went past the teenage years, he accepted that he probably didn’t have a hidden mutant power waiting to manifest. Neither would he uncover any unexplained alien origins, so he threw himself into searching for enhancements designed to bring his latent abilities to the surface. He travelled the world studying arcane magic. Throughout college, he experimented with volatile chemicals, extreme temperatures, lasers, and various forms of radiation.

Eventually, he discovered the power of hypnosis through fantastic stories. He plunged into writing, filling his work with the subtle triggers that would allow him to one day take control of all his readers’ minds and use them as an army to conquer the literary world. Until that day, he works tirelessly to create more and better books. Follow his progress at http://jameswymore.wordpress.com

Want to connect with James, here’s his links:

Book Soon to be Released

Thug #1

Superheroes and villains constantly battle for control of Denver, Colorado, so somebody has to do the heavy lifting. CJ Cruz found his niche working for whichever super-flavor-of-the-day happens to be running the show at the time. Since most of the self-labeled heroes claiming to be on the side of justice don’t hire henchmen, he usually winds up doing the street-level work for supers operating outside the law. His family and priest just think he’s a gangster, but CJ knows his motivation is pure. He keeps on the windy side of law enforcement by following a few simple rules, the first of which is keep your head down and never be the boss’s right-hand man. People tell him he should get a new job, but he likes working around supers. Besides, except for intimidation and roughing-people-up he doesn’t have any other skills necessary to make rent and pay child support.

“Thug #1 is a fast-paced, action-packed book written in comic book style. The artwork is amazing, too!”


Holli Anderson, author of Myrikal
Theocracide – newly released in audiobook!

Theocracide

In the future, everybody wears computer glasses that scan the world and project whatever you want to see right in front of it. Through perfected augmented reality, the buildings and people blend seamlessly into whatever movie or video game is running. We all see whatever we want, all the time. Nobody cares what clothes they wear, because the rest of the world sees them as pirates, robots, or anything that suits their current media. Even the cars are self-driving, because nobody wants to pause the streaming feed.

In other news, the world is under attack by aliens. Disease is decimating the human population. A man takes over America and declares himself to be a god.

Nobody cares, so long as they don’t turn off the wi-fi.

Jason Hunt has the perfect life. A scholarship university athlete with an amazing girlfriend, his future couldn’t be brighter. Then his father drops a few family secrets on him—

Secrets of treason and heresy, which put him in direct conflict with the reigning Theocrat.

“Wymore weaves a fantastic tale while taking a good hard look at religion, politics, immortality, entertainment, and technological advancement.  If you’re looking for a thrilling sci-fi adventure that beautifully mirrors current real-world issues and advancements then this is the book for you.”


Andrew Buckley (Author, Hair in All the Wrong Places)

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Talking Pulp Fiction with Jay Barnson

Before you get all excited about a potential discussion about Uma Thurman, John Travolta, and Samuel L Jackson let me rein you in touch. Today, we’ll be talking about real pulp fiction. Popular stories such as Flash Gordon, Indiana Jones, Tarzan, heck, even Star Wars, all started out as stories that appeared in pulp magazines which were printed on cheap wood pulp paper. They had a distinct smell and feel to them, which pulp fiction enthusiasts have come to love.

My friend, Jay Barnson, is a true pulp fiction aficionado. So much so that he has published several stories in modern pulp publications, such as Storyhack and Cirsova. His new book, Blood Creek Witch, takes the engaging action elements of a good pulp read and weaves them into a fantastic urban fantasy. Jay and I go back to, you might have guessed it, Xchyler Publishing. In 2015, that’s where all the cool local writers hung out.

pulp covers
My big question for Jay is:

What draws you to pulp fiction? (and how has it influenced you…?)

When I was a kid, my primary sources of science fiction and fantasy (which they usually dumped on the same small shelf back then…) were libraries, and occasionally used book stores. This meant I wasn’t reading the newest stuff, and a lot of what I read was anthologies or novel reprints of “classic” science fiction and fantasy — much of which was originally published in pulp magazines. While my friends were discovering Lord of the Rings, I was discovering Conan of Cimmeria. I was into pulp SFF before I even knew what it was! These were the kinds of stories that inspired me. They were the kinds of stories also that inspired some of my favorite movies as a kid, too, like Star Wars (originally three films) and Indiana Jones (um, ditto).

Flash forward to today, and what I want to read (and write) today hasn’t changed much. Stories of the pulp age were well-told yarns focused on escapism and entertainment. The pulp masters made a living writing these things, by producing a constant stream of stories that readers wanted (and would pay for) – through the intermediate layer an editor. It wasn’t about producing an annual book in a series and having a publisher market the crap out of it, or gaining the marketing cachet of a major award or Oprah’s Book Club, or anything else from later eras that drove a “hit.” It was all about entertaining the audience, over and over again. Their stories had to be riveting from page one with nothing else to prop them up except maybe the reputation of their pen name and the name of the magazine.

Since I started getting published, I’ve gone back and read a lot of the original pulps and reprints (and I’ve even picked up a few original paper copies on eBay). Many popular misconceptions about pulp stories can be resolved simply by reading a bunch of them. Yeah, there are plenty of stinkers out there – I’ll be the first to admit that not everything was gold back then. Once you get past the cultural and language barriers of stories from nearly (or over) a hundred years ago, you may find these tales stack up well against a lot of modern stuff published today. They work. The storytelling still works. You can analyze it and find that these men and women figured out (often the hard way) the axioms of writing we take for granted today. They wove magic.

An emphasis on action. Character-driven stories. Show, don’t tell. Lurid spectacle. Escapism. Heart. Thrilling twists. Quiet heroism as well as bold fisticuffs. I want to tell those kinds of stories. Not pastiche stories that sound like they were written in the 1930s, but modern stories that embrace the pulp aesthetic. I’ve been happy to learn that there are a lot of readers out there just like me who crave exactly that kind of story, too, even if they don’t recognize it as “pulpy.” It’s just fun.

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Spring Into Books, 2016, Viridian Center

Jay Barnson writes speculative fiction across multiple genres. His stories and non-fiction articles have appeared in several anthologies and magazines, including The Escapist and the Hugo-nominated Cirsova Heroic Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine. He is the winner of the 2016 DragonComet writing award. Born in West Virginia, Jay grew up on a steady diet of science fiction and fantasy, much of it from the pulp era. His latest novel, Blood Creek Witch, is a tale of magic, monsters, and mayhem set in the backwoods of modern-day West Virginia.

Blood Creek Witch

Want to connect with Jay?

Here’s his links:

Website/Blog: Rampant Games
Facebook page: Author Jay Barnson
Interested in Jay’s stories and books?
Thanks again for joining us today, Jay!
***
Jay was awesome enough to host me for an interview at his blog, go check it out!

Upcoming Events

Launch Party
Stonebearer’s Betrayal Launch Party Nov 16, 7-9pm. You know you don’t want to miss this. Come join me at the Printed Garden Bookstore in Sandy where I’ll be selling and signing books. There will be treats, activities, prizes, a reading, and a Q&A session. I’d love to see you there!
LAandULogo.jpg
Local Authors & You – November 2-3rd: If you live in the Salt Lake valley, this one’s for you! All three of my past guests, John M. Olsen, Candace J. Thomas, and today’s guest Jay Barnson, will be there. Even better, I will be joining them and bringing exclusive pre-release copies of Stonebearer’s Betrayal! So much win! The event is free to the public and requires no registration. It’s a great chance to get signed and personalized Christmas gifts for the book lover on your list.

Guest Interview – Jaleta Clegg

jaletacleggmed

Jaleta Clegg loves telling stories ranging from aliens and spaceships to magic and unicorns to elves and airships to monsters and mayhem. Her published works include space opera with the Fall of the Altairan Empire series, steampunk fairies in Dark Dancer, and silly horror short stories. When not writing, she enjoys watching good bad movies, crocheting stuff out of yarn, and messing in the kitchen inventing new dishes.

She lives in Washington state with a diminishing horde of children, too many pets, and a very patient husband.

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First, tell us a little about yourself and what originally inspired you to write your first book.

I’ve always loved storytelling, but hated writing things out by hand and all the mistakes I made with typewriters led to typing anxiety. It wasn’t until we bought our first computer, a used Commodore128 at a garage sale, that I felt free enough to really start writing. On the computer, mistakes were temporary. Rewriting was effortless. Words could just flow! Except, I had four little kids at the time. We had just moved to a new neighborhood. I needed to escape. So I escaped into my own head. I started writing. Within six months, I’d finished a fantasy trilogy rough draft, edited it, rewritten it, and was ready to move on to other things. I started a science fiction novel. Life happened. I was interrupted. But I kept pecking away at my novels, here and there, sometimes setting them aside for months, until I had eleven finished books in a series. That was when I decided to pursue publishing. So in a nutshell, my stories are my self-therapy and escape.

What is the project you are working on now and where did the idea come from?

I’m currently in the middle of a story tentatively titled Desert Lighthouse. I had this image in my head of a lighthouse in the middle of a desert. What kind of story could I tell about that? Who would build it there? And why? The questions bothered me enough that I started pulling together a story. It’s a strange one, with several different storylines that all weave together. Eventually.

colorful blue snowflake fractal

I’m also working on the sequel to Dark Dancer. I loved the idea of steampunk elves and magic from the first book and wanted to go back to that world. I also realized I left a lot of the story untold and unfinished. Hopefully Winterqueen’s War will fill in a lot of the holes.

I’m also working on a series of stories set in the fictional kingdom of Merkady where the humans have died out leaving behind Humankin, animals that look almost human, and Altereds, animals that can talk and think like people but still look like the original animals. I have a few characters that want me to tell their stories – a rattlesnake fighting for equal rights for Altereds and a bunny Humankin superspy. And don’t let me forget my version of Sinbad in that world, a leopard with a walrus first mate. I can’t wait to get to his story.

I think I have a problem with too many projects going on at the same time.

What authors have inspired you, and why?

I blame Andre Norton. I discovered her books when I was young and impressionable. It amazed me that people wrote stories about aliens and space travel and magic and monsters that weren’t aimed at kids. Her books led me to others by Asimov, Zelazny, Heinlein, Jack Chalker, and others. I haunted the small science fiction section of our library until I’d read all the books they had. But I wanted more.

I found Julie Czerneda and Elizabeth Moon. These women wrote the kinds of books I wanted to write. They told stories that I loved reading. I found Terry Pratchett, Robert Asprin, Douglas Adams, and Piers Anthony and realized humor could be part of science fiction and fantasy. I found other new authors who inspired me to keep writing and pursuing publication, namely Francis Pauli and Paul Genesse. I met Brandon Sanderson and Larry Correia, who never looked down on me, a newbie author, but instead gave me kind words and friendship. I could keep going with the list of authors I love, the ones who keep me reading and keep me dreaming, but the list would just keep going.

What was your hardest scene to write?

Can a whole book count? I really struggled with Chain of Secrets, the eighth book in my series. It’s a dark point in the overall story. Dace, the main character, is struggling with everything, nothing seems to be going right. The whole book was pretty dark, but when I go back and read it again, I love it. It’s about struggling to overcome, about doing what’s right even when it might cost you your life, about dealing with loss and betrayal. It’s about becoming a better person, about being true to your innermost self. It’s also about family and the ties we choose to bind ourselves with. The emotions were powerful and very hard to deal with when I was writing. I’m a very private person, so writing those raw emotions was a lot like walking outside naked. I have a tendency to shy away from the emotions, to put distance between my character and their feelings, so in editing I have to be brutal about closing that distance. Because I know the end result will be that much stronger.

When it’s time to create something new, what is your process?

I start with a scene or a character or sometimes just a line. Then I just write until I start to see a shape to the story. At that point, I usually need to set it aside for a while to let the story ferment and develop. Once I can feel the general shape of the outline, I can write it. With some short stories, the process takes only a day or less. With some novels, I’m still waiting for the story to gel together. I have found if I try to force it, I end up with a boring mess of a story.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

I finally mastered fudge! At least the marshmallow creme/chocolate chip version. It’s been my unicorn for a long time. I’d try to make fudge and end up with chocolate frosting. Or I’d make frosting and somehow end up with a layer of fudge on my cake. I recently found a recipe that works for me. Now I can turn out consistently delicious creamy fudge.

I’m also very proud of the anthologies some of my stories have landed in. I have a comedy in the Baen anthology Mission: Tomorrow about a futuristic game show, The Ultimate Space Race, which is also the name of the story. It’s told by an older couple watching the finale together on the couch. Everything is branded, sponsored, trademarked, and commercialized. Kind of a snarky look at the future, but that’s where I see it headed.

I’m also the proud author of the obligatory fart joke cthulhu story, A Brown and Dismal Horror, in the Redneck Eldritch collection. Yes, my reign as Queen of the Fart Joke is far from over.

And I recently finished an afghan that I love. Crocheting those things take hours and hours, about four seasons of the X-files worth of hours.

0420181101
What do you want to be when you grow up?

Yes, I really want to be Han Solo when I grow up. I want my own beat-up spaceship and my own Wookie best friend. I want to explore new worlds and have adventures. If I can’t have the Millenial Falcon, I’ll settle for Wolf’s ship, and his company, from Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone, one of my all-time favorite movies. Or maybe I’ll go off adventuring with Captain Jack Sparrow on the Black Pearl. Or maybe I’ll just make up more stories of adventure and pretend they’re real. That’s really why I write.

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New Release from Jaleta Clegg!

Bundle Herebefairies

Fairies, fair folk, imps, trolls, and pixies—they haunt our myths from Ireland to Iceland and everywhere else. Join in the fairy fun, or fairy fear, as good, bad, and mischievous they show themselves. Dare you take the trip to Fairyland? No one who returns is ever quite the same.

On sale for a limited time!

https://bundlerabbit.com/b/here-be-fairies?nocache=1

Dark Dancer –

The Seligh crushed,
The captives found,
The barrier broken,
The balmorae freed.

A strange prophecy haunts the Seligh lords, rulers of the Fey and controllers of all magic in the Summerlands, a prophecy that foretells their fall.

A banished Seligh lord rules the Winterlands with an iron fist and his pets, the balmorae, patrol the borders against all intruders, guarding the secrets hidden beneath his icy lair.

A young woman rediscovers her heritage, a gift of magic and dancing that opens portals between worlds. She holds their fate in her hands. All who live within the lands of the Fey must choose where they stand—beside the Dancer or opposed to her.

And trust that she won’t destroy their world.

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To connect with Jaleta, go visit her at her sites:

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Jaleta also interviewed me over at her blog, go check it out!

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Join the discussion by commenting below!

Using Rites and Rituals in Fiction

StarWarsIV_327PyxurzWe’ve come around back to writer Wednesday once more and today we are talking about using rites and rituals in fiction.  When I say rites and rituals, I’m referring to any choreographed set of actions performed by several people that is meant to add importance to an event. For the sake of this post we will use the term “ceremony” to include all rites and rituals and related events. These events include formal religious rites and public occasions such as awards, weddings, anniversaries, coronations, and funerals.

Some ceremonies are simple. For example the Japanese Tea Ceremony is performed by one host and is meant to show respect for the honored guests through a demonstration of grace and good etiquette. This isn’t to say that is is easy, the ceremony takes years to learn and a lifetime to master.

Large ceremonies can require hundreds of well-trained individuals to do their part. The success of the ceremony depends on how well each person can perform their part. A coronation, especially when it is also meant to be a display of power, is a perfect example of ceremony on a massive scale. There is a military presence in dress uniform, a religious order also in ceremonial dress, the members of government, and the people of the country. They all have specific roles to play, symbolic gestures or actions to perform, and often a prescribed set of words to say.

Including ceremony in your fiction, when and if the story calls for it, will do several awesome things for the story itself.  First, it deepens and broadens the world where the story takes place. If there is a ceremony, then it must mean that the world has a deep rich history. It makes everything that much more real.

Second, a ceremony transforms a scene into a formal event and brings with it deeper and more poignant emotional notes. It forces the reader to read closely and think about symbolism and ideas in a more abstract way, which draws them deeply into the story.

Lastly, a great ceremony will bring a sense of awe and wonder. Everything from the costuming to the venue itself is eye candy. The characters will have plenty to react to and their reactions become the readers experience. There should be beauty and mystery paired with decorum and a sense of importance.

Never_003

The Southern Oracles of Neverending Story

A fictional ceremony should contain some, if not all of these elements:

  1. Central focus – this might be a person, object, or goal. All participants in the ceremony are either physically or mentally centered on this item. Everything that happens returns to this item.
  2. Ceremonial dress – clothing, or lack there of, is hugely important to most ceremonies. Be sure to describe it! Think graduations and weddings, there are the robes, the white dress, the robes of the clergy, the stoles and caps of the doctorates.
  3. Unique venue – Special events call for special places and this place will reflect the needs of the ceremony. Weddings take place in churches or specially prepared outdoor locations. Award ceremonies use special halls and public meeting areas.
  4. Prescribed Actions – Perhaps one the key elements of a ceremony is the repetition of the same actions each time. These actions depend of the needs of the ceremony and may include dance, song, chants, specific routes to walk, repeated words and phrases.
  5. Sound – Much of this is part of the prescribed actions, but it bears repeating. Will your ceremony use music, drums, clapping, or stomping? Take time to consider the ambiance. If it is a solemn ceremony it will be quieter, if it is a celebration it will be louder. Sometimes the most noted feature of a ceremony is the silence that is maintained.

How will you use ceremonial rites and rituals in your writing? What are your favorite fictional ceremonies? Share in the comments!

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For more inspiration, check out some of these unique ceremonies:

Film Icon Christopher Lee Dies

It is a rare thing when there is an actor who is known and loved across several generations. Christopher Lee’s first films were made when my parents were barely teenagers. For me growing up, he was that guy who always ended up in the old-timey horror flicks and also a Bond villain. For my kids he will be immortalized as Saruman and Count Dooku.

There are few actors who have as long or as varied of filmography as Christoper Lee. IMDB clocks in 281 credits over the course of a 60+ year career. True to the workhorse he was, he die as he was preparing to start filming for his latest movie.

To celebrate one of speculative fiction’s favorite actors, here are several photos of Christopher Lee through the years.

Hammer Horror's Dracula

Hammer Horror’s Dracula – Lee’s iconic defining role

Ultimate Bond Villain - The Man with the Golden Gun

Ultimate Bond Villain – The Man with the Golden Gun

We mustn't anger Count Dooku, he's got a lightsaber

We mustn’t anger Count Dooku, he’s got a lightsaber

Monsieur Labisse from Hugo, on of Lee's rare unevil roles

Monsieur Labisse from Hugo, on of Lee’s rare unevil roles

No list would be complete without Saruman the White

No list would be complete without Saruman the White

While he rarely ever took the spotlight, the roles he did take he made personal and memorable, and that’s the stuff that makes a man a legend.

Rest in peace – you’ve deserved it.

Writing Fantasy Profanity

Bantha-ST

Don’t mix up your Bantha Poodoo with your Nerf Herders! Getting swearing right is important.

It’s writer Wednesday and today we are going to delve into the risque topic of fantasy profanity. Well, ok, it’s not all that risque. In fact, the reason many people like fantasy novels is that there is rarely ever any swearing.

Instead, we enter the world of alternate swearing. In a fantasy world there are different beliefs and different cultural practices that lead to different terms being considered profane, just like different English speaking countries have distinct swear words. Saying ‘bollocks’ or ‘bloody’ in the US barely gets an eyebrow raise because most people don’t know what they mean.

Using standard swearing in a fantasy novel doesn’t make sense because you wouldn’t expect an alternate civilization to develop the same swear words. When they are used they pull the reader from the narrative – a big NO NO.

Let’s see how these titles handle swearing –

Mazerunner, James Dashner: (I’m talking about the book, not the movie) The Gladers those who live withing the maze use ‘shuck’ and ‘clunk’ ans their stronger swears.

  • Clunk is a direct replacement for sh%t and comes directly from the sound made when using the rustic bathroom – and yes, this is explained in the book.
  • Shuck rhymes with fu%k for a reason.
  • Other slang includes: shank, slim it, slinthead, greenbean, jacked, and bloody.

Wheel of Time, Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson: There are a plethora of these, for the complete list, check out the wiki. These words are tied directly to the world where much of the protagonists history includes blood, fire, and magic. The most popular swear words are the following:

  • Flaming used much like we use ‘damn’ and expresses anger or hatred toward something or someone.
  • Blasted a slightly stronger version of ‘flaming’
  • Light used as an exclamation similar to how we use ‘god’
  • Burn (me, you, etc) is also similiar to damn and is used when people are upset
  • Blood and Ashes expresses anger and disgust.

Star Wars Universe: While this is sci/fi the same rules apply – it’s not our world or culture so the swear words would be different. I was actually surprised at how many of these there are, for a complete run down, including origins and definitions, check out this article.

  • F-bomb substitutes: crink/crinking, farkled. kark/karking, kriff/kriffing, krong, Skrog/skrogging, snark/snarking (no relation to today’s snarky).
  • S-word substitutes: druk, dwang, Holy Sith!, shab, shavit.
  • Other Insults: Bantha poodoo, e chu ta, hutt-spawn, laserbrain/blaster brain, lurdo, nerf herder, schutta, sculag, sleemo, son of a blaster, stoopa, vong.

Needless to say, there are many ways to handle swearing in your world.  The more deeply embedded into the culture and world, the better these insults will be.  If your world has a lot of water elements then there should be some water related swearing and insults, wethead, salt and slime, salty, bilge, etc. A desert culture would use a different set that evoked images of heat, dry, and stench.

Whatever you do, make it meaningful. Random words used as swear words won’t affect your reader nearly as much as words that have a history and a purpose.

Happy Writing!

Favorite Fandom Memes

It’s Friday, and it’s a pretty great day to celebrate some of my favorite fandoms.

mf-130227-2705983186812539392I’ve always been more of a Trekkie than a Star Wars fan, although I appreciate the latter for the sheer scope of its franchise.

mathjoke-funnypics-haha-humor-math-mathmeme-meme-lotr-lordoftherings-elvish-calculusI loved Lord of the Rings before it was cool. I read the books in college and in high school. Naturally, the first movie came out I was living out of the country and I had to wait.

harry-potter-memes-amenAs evidenced by my previous post, yes I do love Harry Potter. I am guilty of dressing up as Hermione for line parties and even as Lockheart’s personal assistant for local magic shows. As an unrelated side note, there are a LOT of really great Potter memes.

frabz-Trust-me-Im-the-Doctor-8b7624I recently dove into the Doctor Who universe and am currently up to series 4. I’ve heard you either love Doctor Who or hate it, and I can wholeheartedly say I love it.  I think I have a little crush on David Tennant as well… Don’t tell my hubby.

There’s also Warehouse 13, Sherlock, and Once Upon a Time that I watch, but have yet to develop true feelings for.  They are entertaining and often well written, but I wouldn’t cry if they disappeared for some reason. Well perhaps if Cumberbatch disappeared…

What about you, dear reader? What fandoms are you a part of?

Let me know in the comments!